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General E46 Forum
This is the place to get answers, opinions and everything you need related to your E46 (sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon) BMW!

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Old 03-31-2017, 04:12 AM   #1
Ambersvea
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Drain/Flush Power steering reservoir?

So I am a 19 year old female who doesn't know what she's doing & I wanted to take matters into my own hands when my car told me that my oil level was at its minimum. I had the right oil. I lifted my hood & looked around a little bit, saw "oil only" ignoring the CHF11S because like I said, I don't know what I'm doing. I looked for the oil symbol but for some reason I totally skipped past it & thought, okay this must be it then. So I started pouring . Turned my car on and it said that it was calculating the level so I drove it across town & back , but it had the same level (go figure) so I came home to add more & suddenly I noticed it stopped going down the funnel, it was almost to the rim. So I slowly lifted the funnel out & called my dad freaking out. My dad said it's physically impossible since I had only added about a quarter of 1 quart of oil. So then i sent him a picture of where i added the oil & he told me it was the wrong spot which i was already aware of at that point. I am aware that I need to siphon all of the fluid & oil out of the reservoir. I saw a couple of other posts on e46 fanatics as well as bimmer forums from people who had made the same mistake as I & they had been advised to siphon, then flush with the correct fluid, siphon again then add the correct fluid to the correct level. I just wanted some other opinions & before I do anything else, wanted to make sure that I'm doing the right thing. Weigh in please!
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Old 03-31-2017, 09:23 AM   #2
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I'm guessing you added oil to the power steering resivuor. Am I correct? If I am, then yes siphoning it is a must. Here is the challenge. The BMW power steering reservour has an internal filter in it which is not servicable. With that being said, you will probably need to have a new power steering reservoir put on. They are not expensive, so no need to worry. Looking at your post I don't see what year or model your car is. Your garage says it is a 2006 525. Is this correct? So before I answer any further let me know if this is correct as far as year and model of car. Oh and one more thing. **** happens, so again no worries, you haven't killed anything yet.

Last edited by Birdmedic1701; 03-31-2017 at 09:30 AM.
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Old 03-31-2017, 10:12 AM   #3
Ambersvea
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Originally Posted by Birdmedic1701 View Post
I'm guessing you added oil to the power steering resivuor. Am I correct? If I am, then yes siphoning it is a must. Here is the challenge. The BMW power steering reservour has an internal filter in it which is not servicable. With that being said, you will probably need to have a new power steering reservoir put on. They are not expensive, so no need to worry. Looking at your post I don't see what year or model your car is. Your garage says it is a 2006 525. Is this correct? So before I answer any further let me know if this is correct as far as year and model of car. Oh and one more thing. **** happens, so again no worries, you haven't killed anything yet.
Yes that seems to be what I did & yes it is a 2006 525i. Where would I have to go to buy a new reservoir, any parts store? Online? & would it be easy enough to replace at home?
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Old 03-31-2017, 10:15 AM   #4
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Definitely drain all the power steering fluid, and refill with the correct fluid. If you do it yourself, remember to "burp" the power steering system, with the engine on, turning the steering wheel from side all the way to the other side a few times, then recheck the fluid level. If you want to replace the power steering reservoir, as mentioned above, the ZF OEM reservoir runs around $30 (assuming you don't have Active Steering and/or Dynamic Drive, in which case requires a different, more expensive, reservoir).

The non-active/dynamic drive oil reservoir lists for $68 from BMW (if you buy locally), or you can order from a discount BMW dealer like thebmwminipartstore.com for $51 + shipping. Or Autohausaz.com has the ZF OEM reservoir for $29. The other BMW reservoir (active steering/dynamic drive) list for $78. Of course there are other online sources. Personally, I have used the ZF OEM replacement, and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. I would not, however, use any other non-OEM/BMW brands.
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Last edited by Sansho; 03-31-2017 at 10:22 AM.
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Old 03-31-2017, 10:21 AM   #5
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What Sancho is talking about is known as ARS or anti-roll system. I don't believe your car has that. Your best bet is to call a dealership any BMW dealership tell them what you've done. Ask them to look up your Vin number. They will be glad to do that and they will be able to tell you if your car needs the more expensive reservoir due to the ARS. The best place to go and order this reservoir is FCP euro. I use them for everything due to the fact that everything you buy from them has a lifetime warranty. Should be roughly 30 or so dollars. As for now, definitely flush the system by adding the correct fluid to the car. Your car uses a hydraulic fluid and not the automatic transmission fluid that other BMWs use for power steering fluid. To answer your question in relation to, is this something I can do at home. The answer is definitely yes. You will not need any special tools. It will help to have someone there who is mechanically inclined. Next time you are oil to your vehicle. When you open the hood and you were standing in front of the car looking at the engine. Your oil fill Is on the left top side of what is known as the valve cover. That is where the oil is added for the engine. As for the power steering reservoir. You may be able to go to like AutoZone or advanced auto to pick up that part if that is something you want to do now. Ordering from Fcp Euro is, in my opinion the best way to go, but as they are online the part will take a couple days to ship and arrive. The easiest and best way to flush the system is to go to any grow store and pick up a turkey baster. Open the reservoir, and before you put the turkey baster in the reservoir push the top of the turkey baster, place the baster in the reservoir to the bottom and then let off of the suction bulb and it will suck fluid up into the baster. You can dispose of the fluid by putting it in a Coca-Cola 20 ounce bottle and or any other container that you can take and dispose of properly. Before you start this make sure you go to the store and get the correct power steering fluid for your vehicle. Once you cannot suck up any more fluid from the reservoir using the turkey baster add new power steering fluid that you bought and fill it to the line. Then start the car, turn the steering wheel from lock to lock meaning right to left as far as it will go, do this a couple of times as this will circulate fluid. Now go back to the reservoir unscrew the cap where you added the new power steering fluid and using your turkey baster do the same thing that you did by sucking out all the fluid until you can get no more, add more power steering fluid to the line and do the same thing turning the steering wheel lock to lock. Be sure you put the cap back on the power steering fluid before you start the car and turn the steering wheel. Otherwise the power steering fluid could splash out of the reservoir can get on your engine not a big deal but a mess. By sucking out the old fluid and putting in the new fluid and doing this to to three times you will have mostly new power steering fluid in. So you'll be OK to drive. But because your power steering fluid reservoir has its own filter you definitely want to replace the power steering reservoir. This is not a hard job and literally the reservoir is held in by 2 10 or 12 mm bolts. I forget the size. And then on the bottom of the reservoir there are two rubber lines going to it. There are videos on YouTube to help you through this process.

Last edited by Birdmedic1701; 03-31-2017 at 10:48 AM.
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Old 03-31-2017, 10:26 AM   #6
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The best way is to do a full fluid exchange, which gets all the old fluid out and replaces it all with new fluid. It's what I do for the power steering fluid and automatic transmission fluid. A good shop can do it for a decent price. I would get a quote.
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Old 03-31-2017, 10:50 AM   #7
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When I say special tools to do the job. You will definitely need a socket set and a pair of line cutters. Line cutters is not something everybody owns, but they are cheap and is it buy at any Home Depot, Lowes, or any hardware store. I shouldn't assume, but I am assuming that you own a basic socket set.

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Old 03-31-2017, 11:17 AM   #8
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Go to my website http://www.e46mango.com/2014/10/hi-t...6fanatics.html and under "Popular E46 Products" copy/ paste part# 32411097164 and the top result is URO parts reservoir for $17 same day shipping. Fastest way to get your car on the road if you want to replace the reservoir due to contamination. It's a non-critical part so it's likely not a big deal if you want to save a few pennies. It's the only brand with same day shipping so thought it may help you. Good luck!
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Old 03-31-2017, 11:20 AM   #9
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Is anybody else curious how the steering pump and unit performs with motor oil?
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Old 03-31-2017, 11:25 AM   #10
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It would be interesting to find out Schwab, you try. let us know what happens.
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Old 03-31-2017, 11:30 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Mango View Post
Go to my website http://www.e46mango.com/2014/10/hi-t...6fanatics.html and under "Popular E46 Products" copy/ paste part# 32411097164 and the top result is URO parts reservoir for $17 same day shipping.
The OP has an e60.
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Old 03-31-2017, 11:36 AM   #12
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The OP has an e60.
Still the same P/N. This part has been used for decades.
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Old 04-01-2017, 07:17 AM   #13
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What everyone else said.

Also, as a female who also used to know absolutely nothing about cars, I recommend finding a mechanic or garage that offers car maintenance classes. You can learn a lot about what your car needs for maintenance, what kinds of sounds that are not normal and symptoms than indicate there is something not working properly. I didn't take a class but have friends who are willing to teach me all this stuff.

P.S. your car doesn't just need enough oil, but needs regular oil changes. Oil is the cheapest mechanic.

Last edited by BMWoah; 04-01-2017 at 10:04 AM.
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Old 04-01-2017, 07:28 AM   #14
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Is anybody else curious how the steering pump and unit performs with motor oil?
Me! Lol
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Old 04-02-2017, 12:55 PM   #15
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It would be interesting to find out Schwab, you try. let us know what happens.
I'm waiting...
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Old 04-02-2017, 05:17 PM   #16
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I am considering testing the oil in the power steering system, but only after I get my Z3 maintenace done next week (still waiting on parts from FCP), and I order my rebuilt steering rack, new pump, new reservoir, and new hoses. I planned to do this work anyway, so really have nothing to lose.
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Old 04-04-2017, 08:32 AM   #17
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...or you could get yourself a fluid extraction pump, here's one for $17.35 http://www.amsoil.com/shop/by-produc...?code=G2576-EA. Remove as much fluid as you can, fill it with the correct fluid, drive it for a while, then repeat once or twice. In fact, everyone should do this to flush their power steering fluid. The pump also works great for servicing transmissions and diffs. But hold on, doesn't the power steering reservoir say ATF only? Also, you have a 2006 525i which isn't an E46. I'm starting to think you might want to bring this to a qualified BMW mechanic or maybe have your dad help you.

Last edited by goodmanr; 04-04-2017 at 08:36 AM.
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Old 04-04-2017, 09:49 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by goodmanr View Post
...or you could get yourself a fluid extraction pump, here's one for $17.35 http://www.amsoil.com/shop/by-produc...?code=G2576-EA. Remove as much fluid as you can, fill it with the correct fluid, drive it for a while, then repeat once or twice. In fact, everyone should do this to flush their power steering fluid. The pump also works great for servicing transmissions and diffs. But hold on, doesn't the power steering reservoir say ATF only? Also, you have a 2006 525i which isn't an E46. I'm starting to think you might want to bring this to a qualified BMW mechanic or maybe have your dad help you.
Or, you can use the PS pump itself to exchange all the fluid utilizing the reservoir connections. It requires a helper to start/stop the engine and turn the steering lock to lock in the process. The fluid comes out fast so you need an extension hose and large container to catch the old fluid, while pouring in the new fluid fairly quickly. Of course, if the reservoir gets too low just have the helper shut off the engine until your pouring catches up.
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Old 04-04-2017, 11:23 AM   #19
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Do a full PS flush and you'll be ok....

If the PS cap says "ATF" use Dextron or equivalent. If it says "CHF 11" then use Pentosin.



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Old 04-04-2017, 01:54 PM   #20
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If the PS cap says "ATF" use Dextron or equivalent. If it says "CHF 11" then use Pentosin.
No, I wouldn't recommend that. Pentosin CHF11S is absolutely the wrong fluid for USA E46 PS system. It needs to be Dexron III or equivalent.

Most of the time the cap says CHF11S because the reservoir was replaced, and most new reservoirs have the wrong cap!
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